Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Nike! Nike! Marathon Victory

On a hot Summer's day in 490 BC the Greek legend Philippides ran 26 hilly miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver the news that the Athenian Army defeated the Persians. Totally exhausted, he died after the good news reached the city.

What a way for an international spectacle to have its beginnings.

On Sunday I attempted the marathon, which I've now coined the ultimate challenge for the common man. To be exact, a marathon is 26 miles, 385 yards and 1/2" long. For me the marathon was an extraordinary physical challenge and I wanted to say that at one point in my life I had completed one. So shortly after running the 15.5 mile riverbank run in May I decided this was the time to run the marathon since I had already done a significant amount of distance training. I pretty quickly found out, however, that 26 miles is WAY more than 15 miles.

I trained over the second half of the summer and through the early fall and worked up to the ability to do a 20 mile run. I had the support of Jason and Jeff who were also training for the Detroit Marathon and I did a number of the longer training runs with Jason. But even after well over 300 miles worth of training SINCE the riverbank, I was quite nervous about my ability to complete the Detroit Marathon. I knew there would be lots of support during an official race but I also knew some days I just didn't feel that well and my longest training run of 20 miles was a far cry away from 26.2. So I rested my body as well as possible, ate intelligently, and hoped for the best on race day.

The race started at 7:30am on Sunday when it was about 40 degrees outside. My dad and uncle Marv ran the half marathon which started with the marathon so we all got ready to go and waited for the mass of humanity in front of us to start spreading out. More than 9 minutes had gone by before we made it to the start line.

The first 13 miles were pretty awesome. After winding through downtown Detroit for a couple of miles we went over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada. In Canada we ran through some really nice areas along the river before heading back to the US through the tunnel. Coming out of the tunnel around mile 9 was super exciting because there was a huge line of fans along Jefferson, including Erin, Melissa, and my mom. At this point we sped up to about 9:20-9:30 min/mi.

My dad and Marv ran about 50 feet behind Jason, Jeff, and me until mile 10. Marv had never run more than 8 miles in his life before Sunday so his 13 mile run was very impressive. My dad finished the half marathon in 2:10:53 and Marv in 2:11:50.

After the halfway point reality began setting in. Mile 15 started heading away from downtown and I could start to really feel my legs. Jeff fell back a little at this point with some stomach pains. Jason and I continued on at about 9:30-10:00 min/mile and were greeted at mile 17 by Cindy, James, Carissa, and Derek. Derek jumped on the course with us and ran the Belle Isle leg of the race from mile 17-20. It was nice having him run because he offered some additional distraction as my legs continued to degrade. As we left Belle Isle Jason continued at our previous pace but I knew I had to slow way down if I wanted to survive. At mile 20 Derek left me and I continued on at about 12 min/mi for miles 20-24. Even though I was really feeling it and running quite slow, I was still enjoying every minute of the race. The fans were great, the weather was awesome, and every step I took I got more confident that I would make it the whole way.

At mile 24 I had my last carb pack and passed a marching band that was really belting it out and I just got a huge charge of energy. I tried to run a faster but immediately I felt my groin start cramping up so I quickly backed off. At mile 24.5 I was happily greeted by my beautiful wife, who charged out onto the course and started running with me. It was funny because she had about 6 layers of clothes on because it was so cold first thing in the morning so she had to shed her coat and fleece after a few minutes of running. Erin encouraged me for over a mile until we were getting very close. At mile 25.5 I all of the sudden felt very loose and energetic and I started running as fast as I could. There was a tunnel of people cheering us all on as we approached Ford Field. I passed a lot of other runners in that final stretch and then made my way down the steep tunnel onto the stadium turf and all out sprinted to the finish line. It was an exhilarating finish to a tremendous race! My final time was 4:21:31 for an average pace of 9:59. I am extremely happy with how well it went and it is an experience I'll never forget.

Jason ran very well with a time of 4:13:04 for a 9:40 pace and Jeff hit the wall on Belle Isle but still managed a good time of 4:31:29.


Anonymous Darren said...

You guys rock, I'll join you next year.

10:53 PM  

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